There are few things that need to happen pretty quickly when you first start your business. You need to register as an actual business with your state, get an EIN from the IRS, register your domain, and get a Gmail account. However, before you can do any of these, you need to pick your name.
Your Company’s Name
Your name is the first impression every customer will have of your company. There are two or three possible methods to go with.
The first one that is worth considering is search keywords. If someone who lives in Charlottesville searches for a dentist, they will probably search for “dentist in Charlottesville”, “dentist near me”, or something similar. Some businesses will use one of those exact search terms as the name of their business, including the ones with “near me”. This may give them a little jumpstart to ranking higher on Google. You may not like these names though, but it’s still worth considering something like this because search engine ranking can have a big impact on your business long term. Even if you only incorporate one or two good keywords into your name, it can be better than not even thinking about keywords.
You can also use a term specific to your industry. For example, a restaurant may include a common ingredient in its type of cuisine or the main region of its style of cooking. These types of name will register with your customers better than something more generic.
A less popular option that’s still worth considering is a completely made up word. Obviously, this really only works for certain types of businesses, but it can help ensure there’s no confusion between you and other companies and that you will get the domain you want.
Once you have your name picked out, register your domain name so you know that’s taken care of and you know you get the name you want. You definitely don’t want to register with the state and IRS and then find out you have to change your name because you can’t get the domain you wanted.
Most options are pretty cheap, they want you to be their customer then they’ll add on things such as the hosting, email, SSL certificate, etc.
Register with the State
Once you’ve registered your domain, register with your state. In Virginia, go to SCC.Virginia.gov to register your business. DO NOT waste money on paid services that do what you can do in half an hour. It’s only $100 per year to register in Virginia and it’s free to get your EIN.
EIN from the IRS
Once you’re registered with the state, go to IRS.gov and get your Employer Identification Number (EIN). This is free, but be sure to save the PDF form listing your EIN. This is also the time you will need to set up the account for payroll taxes if you will have payroll.
I would also get a Gmail account with the same name. Google offers a lot of helpful tools such as Google Drive which you can use to give yourself mobile access to all of your company’s files. Even if that’s not something you need or not the way you want to do it, you’ll still want a Gmail account in order to set up your company’s listing on Google Maps. Google also offers a lot of tools that you will want to utilize on your website that will help with search engine ranking.
You can use the Gmail account as your primary company email, but this doesn’t look as professional as an email to your domain. I use my business’s Gmail account for behind the scenes accounts such as vendors I pay for services (such as QuickBooks, domain registration, etc.) and just use the one for my domain with clients. this way they see the professional email and I save storage space. In addition, it allows me to prioritize emails from customers without worrying about every random email from vendors, most of which don’t require anything from me and almost never need my attention quickly.
All of these tasks can take as little as about an hour total. They’re all important, so do them all. Don’t rush though, the right name is important and that’s the first step. But once you have the right name picked out, do everything else as quickly as possible so you don’t lose the names you want.